On January 21st, 2023, during the installation of the Grand Officers of the Grand Lodge of Texas, the newly-installed Grand Master, G. Clay Smith, with the support of Past Grand Master Terry Stogner, attempted to prevent the installation of Jim Rumsey as Grand Junior Warden.
Watch this video closely. Below, we point out a few sections of video to help provide you with key details that are easily missed.
0:21 – Past Grand Master Stogner leans forward in his chair, seemingly about to get up.
0:33 – Past Grand Master Stogner stands up and begins to make his way behind the Grand East to the podium. He has intentionally waited until the Grand Master has been installed and has assumed the East.
2:32 – Grand Master Smith takes off his hat and picks up his podium book.
2:38 – Past Grand Master Miller looks to the podium and shrugs in an attempt to convey an appearance that he does not know what is about to happen.
2:46 – Past Master Stogner, from the podium, requests to approach the East.
3:05 – Grand Master Smith receives the charges from PGM Stogner and picks up a prepared statement.
3:45 – Grand Master Smith reads his prepared statement for the charges and states his intention to not install Jim Rumsey as Grand Junior Warden.
4:00 – Grand Master Smith states the charges have been filed with the Grand Secretary’s office, though he hands the papers to PGM Miller rather than the Grand Secretary, Justin Duty.
6:48 – PGM Billings, from the podium, makes a point of order stating that only the Grand West is able to accept charges to applause from the Grand West.
8:06 – Brother Charles Maddox, chair of the committee on jurisprudence, upon being summoned by Grand Master Smith, reports the Grand Master may choose what is out of order.
8:56 – Grand Master Smith states off-mic to PGM Miller, “He’s not going to be installed.”
9:12 – Grand Master Smith changes his mind and states, “…Let’s proceed with the installation, and we will deal with it in executive session tomorrow.”
This morning at about 9am Central, the Grand Lodge of Texas published a letter from the Grand Master, G.Clay Smith.
The letter is below. It is ridden with errors and omissions. To understand the letter, it is important to consider these five facts.
The below letter, dated January 30, 2023, states that “at approximately 3:40 p.m. on Saturday, January 21, 2023, the Grand Secretary received Masonic Charges against Rumsey”. This was before he was installed as Grand Junior Warden. The letter states that he was a Grand Lodge Officer due to his serving as a District Deputy Grand Master at-Large and as a member of the Committee on Work. However, Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution states that members of the Committee on Work are not Officers of the Grand Lodge. Art. 21 states “no member shall hold two offices, elective or appointive, in the Grand Lodge at the same time.” This Article is broader than “Grand Lodge Officer” and prohibits serving on a committee and serving as a Grand Lodge Officer at the same time. This was article was passed when RW Michael Wiggins served as Grand Master. The “whereas” portions of that resolution discuss its intent.
Therefore, as Rumsey was serving on the Committee on Work, his appointment as a DDGM at Large was void. Therefore, Rumsey was NOT a Grand Lodge Officer at the time the offense occurred, nor at the time the charges were accepted. This means that these charges are procedurally invalid.
Identical charges to the ones signed by the 3 Past Grand Masters were filed before the election, signed by certain Grand Lodge Officers. Grand Master Billings rejected the charges and filed such rejection with the Grand Secretary on Friday morning during the Grand Lodge Communication, January 20th, 2023.
If these charges had been procedurally valid, Art. 661 and 667 allows the Grand Master to either hold a trial in front of the Grand West at the next Communication or refer the matter to the Committee on Grievances and Appeals at the next Communication or any time before then. There is no set time limit here. However, the proceeding must be held in a Lodge under Art. 669 — Not in the Library and Museum. The Grand Master has the authority to call a special Communication pursuant to Article VI Section 3(b) of the Constitution to vote on the recommendation of the Committee on Grievances and Appeals before the next annual communication, but as the point is to suspend RW Rumsey for as long as possible, this has not been done. This brings us to point Four.
Art. 512 states that “when allegations of Masonic disciplinary violation have been referred to, accepted by the Grand Master, and referred to a Masonic Disciplinary Commission, his standing will be a “Mason laboring under Masonic disciplinary action.” Therefore, if charges are being brought against a Grand Lodge Officer under Chapter 24, Art. 512 will not apply, as the allegations will not be referred to a Masonic Disciplinary Commission. While the Committee on Grievances and Appeals is vested with the authority of a Masonic Disciplinary Commission, they are not a “Masonic Disciplinary Commission.” To remedy this, Art. 660 allows for the suspension of a Grand Lodge Officer if the violation involves “moral turpitude.” Texas law defines “moral turpitude” as “Crimes that involve dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or deliberate violence, also:
Anything done knowingly contrary to justice, honesty, principle, or good morals.
An act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow men or to society in general.
Something immoral in itself, regardless of whether it is punishable by law. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute, fixes the moral turpitude.
Immoral conduct is that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community.
Public intoxication is NOT a crime of moral turpitude. Hammett v. State, 713 S.W.2d 102.
Trespassing (which did not occur here, but even if it did) is not a crime of moral turpitude. Hutson v. State, 843 S.W.2d 106.
However, as the Brethren are not even aware as to the full details of the charges, it is difficult for them to know this. In all cases, Jim Rumsey’s removal was not allowed under Art. 660.
Art. 508.36 states that it is a masonic disciplinary violation to “discuss privately with any member of the Masonic Disciplinary Commission the facts of any case pending before said Commission, or attempt in any way to influence the action of the Commission or any member thereof for or against the Brother being tried.”
This Article does not apply to Chapter 24 of Title V. There is no “Masonic Disciplinary Commission” under Chapter 24. While Art. 668 and 669 state the same procedure shall be followed as a Masonic Disciplinary Commission, it states that the Committee on Grievances and Appeals “is vested with the powers of a Masonic Disciplinary Commission.”
Therefore, even if Art. 508.36 applied to Chapter 24, the members of the Masonic Disciplinary Commission would be the members of the Committee on Grievances and Appeals–not the Grand West.
Therefore, there is no authority under Art. 508 to prevent members of the Grand West from discussing this matter or charge them with a disciplinary violation, and there is absolutely no authority for the Grand Master to remove voting power from any member of the Grand West for discussing this matter.
This letter was published at a time to create the maximum effect – on Monday morning. News cycles (and social media cycles) are typically the slowest during the weekend. This letter was finalized on 1/27/2023 at 2:42pm according to the PDF file properties. It appears the Grand Master wanted the maximum effect.
Who filed the charges? We have reports the three Past Grand Masters mentioned in the letter above are Terry W. Stogner, Thomas Eugene “Gene” Carnes, and Jerry Martin.
Who is Chairman of the Committee on Grievances and Appeals? Grand Tiler, Alvin “Al” Lee Holoman, who was originally appointed to the committee by PGM Terry W. Stogner.
And please, whatever you do, do not discuss the details of this letter, which, as an official Grand Lodge Communication, must be read by every lodge across the state of Texas at their next stated meeting.